Congratulations to the two winners Polly Musgrove and Kirily McKellor!
And well done everyone else for entering this month and throughout the year as well. We’ll be having a break for December but will be back in the new year.
Judges Award: Double Act by Polly Musgrove
Orange red streaks flare across the western horizon as the day fades into the ephemeral green marking the onset of night. Distant low hills mark the edge of pale salt bush scrub and twisted clumps of Mallee gums. Small mobs of white corellas fly across, calling to each other, and mosquitoes rise in clouds filling the still hot air with high pitched whining.
Two people sit together outside the sprawling hotel, elbows leaning on the scarred outdoor table. Behind the lighted fly screens the bar is already full of the sound of drinkers, the red dust staining the Utes parked outside. There is a burst of laughter and someone whistles mockingly. Outside, a
phone screen glows blue as the woman looks at her phone, her face lit for a minute.
They should be here.
The man sitting opposite her glances down the single wide street that dissects the shamble of buildings that make up the township-post office, grocery store, bank. The footpaths are empty at this hour, the only movement the flickering light of a single street lamp over the bus stop.
In the fading light, a pair of harsh stars as headlights appear, the slow kerb crawl of an approaching car, expensive engine purring as tyres whisper across the tarmac. Even at this distance the woman feels like she can smell the familiar tang of aftershave from the interior.
You know what to do. The man gets up and walks into the shadows.
She reaches under the table and pulls out a large brown envelope. Her whole life is an improvised double act with him, she thinks, short notice, if any, for every scenario. Soon they will have enough money to get out of here, but first, the show must go on. She lights a cigarette, exhales and waits.
People’s Choice Award: Spontaneity by Kirily McKellor
They told her to improvise,
to make it up as she went along,
to not have a plan.
But she always had a plan,
a plot, an idea, a strategy.
She always knew her next move,
knew how everything would end.
But she took in a breath
and blew her plan away.
She blew away her preconceived notions,
her preformed ideas,
her preplanned moves.
She breathed in spontaneity,
thinking on her feet,
and flying by the seat of her pants.
She surrounded herself with uncertainty,
with change, with new.
She followed her impulses,
her whims, her fancies.
She ran ahead
with no idea where she would end up.
She ran ahead
with no plan for the future.
and ran, and ran, and ran.
But because she didn’t plan for the end,
she didn’t see the end until it was too late.
And in the end,
she didn’t see at all.